Some of you may know that I live in the Syracuse, NY area. Some of you who watch NCAA basketball might know that over this past weekend many college teams played in the NCAA tournament to get into the Sweet Sixteen, which means the last 16 teams in the tournament. Those who watched know that my team, the Syracuse Orange men’s team, won 3 games last week, being the underdog in each one of them, and is in the Sweet Sixteen again… after getting there 2 years ago. 🙂
I want one of these for 2018
Because of that, I decided to do a blogging tips post where I’m going to mention 16 sweet blogging tips that might help you become a better blogger… or at least a happier blogger. Some of these I’ve probably mentioned in previous posts; after all, I’ve been writing for just over 10 years and I have over 550 posts out of just under 1,800 posts specifically on blogging.
The only promise I’ll make you is that I’ll only steal half the topics from the last post I did on blogging, where I gave details on 6 blogging tips you should be considering. Since that was in 2017, I hope you give me some latitude on this. If not… well… I don’t care! lol Let’s begin:
1. If you’re stuck with topic ideas, think about what’s going on in your life and relate blogging to that.
This one should be easy enough to do because I’m giving you an example with this particular post. Think about the last few days and what’s gone on that you might be able to turn into a blog post. Whether it’s related to your niche or not, I’m betting you can find a way to relate your topic to what’s been going on, like I did last year when I related my new CPAP mask to blogging, even though I’m not using that mask anymore.
2. If you follow the advice from above, find at least 3 things you can relate to it.
Unless you’re trying to be Neil Patel, you don’t need to have a lot of items to write about on your topic. For instance, the post I linked to above regarding CPAP and blogging only had 4 points… and it was still just under 1,300 words.
3. Don’t worry about blog post length as much as following one of the 3 tenets of what makes a good blog post.
I mentioned Neil Patel above because he writes some magnificently long blog posts. For the overwhelming majority of us, something that epic might only happen once or twice a year… if that. It’s true that Google seems to like to show off very long posts, with the idea that they have more authority than shorter posts.
Truth be told, some of the most valuable blog posts I’ve come across have been those that have had a specific item I was looking for to help me solve something. That type of post fits in with my magic 3 tenets of what a blog post should be: educational, informative or entertaining. Follow one of those and you’ll be just fine.
certainly not boring
4. Don’t be boring.
Don’t write “do not”; write “don’t”! That’s just one example of being conversational as opposed to being boring; if it’s your natural language, contractions are a wonderful thing.
Look at this post thus far. I’m writing the way I speak for most of it, and I’m not afraid to add a bit of personality to this article. Being engaging will get people to come back to see what you have to say, way more often than someone who writes specific posts about whatever but the language being used drives you away.
5. Write shorter paragraphs when you can.
I sometimes violate this one but not all that often. Even the longest paragraphs in this article are mainly 3 sentences; that’s not a bad thing.
The reason for shorter paragraphs is because it’s easier to read text on electronic vehicles than it is if you’re reading a novel. It goes against what I was taught in grammar classes when I was going to school but these days teachers are educating their students in a totally different way. I might not have to tell you this but for older folks like me it’s a bit of a necessity for me to say something about it.
6. Beginning, middle and end don’t necessarily work in blogging.
Remember that novel thing I mentioned above? In novels, having a beginning, middle and end that are all related is what teachers will preach if you’re doing creative writing. That works best in books, but not always for blog posts… although it should if you ask me. 🙂
The SEO experts will tell you that your first line should be a set up for the rest of your article because that’s the way search engines want it to be. Whereas that’s true in a great sense, I’ve found that search engines are smarter than people think they are.
For instance, this is a post about blogging, but I’ve led by talking about college basketball. Tell me if you, the reader, is irritated that I started off with a short tale before getting into these 16 tips or if the tips are more important in the long run. If you say the tips are more important, the search engines agree with you; yay!
The most important thing in blogging is the middle. The beginning is nice, and an ending would be considerate, but a lot of blog posts bypass both of them. Don’t worry about it; write as you please, as long as you make sure people understand what you’re writing.
7. Images can be fun.
After having a go-round with Getty over an image from 5 years ago (really; sigh…), I’ve started using my own image library for all my blog posts because I know where they’ve come from. SEO pundits will tell you that you should use images that fit your content; that doesn’t always work out so well. How many images do you think there are that relate to blogging?
You could learn some lessons from Instagram posts. A lot of people put up an image that has nothing whatsoever to do with what they’ll write underneath it (or above; I always get that mixed up). I’d rather use a personal or colorful image I’ve taken than sitting around trying to put something together on Canva (especially since I’m not that kind of talented). Look at the images I’ve used on this post and some of the captions I’ve added; this works for me, and it can probably work for you as well.
8. If you’re going to write a list post, add some meat to it.
Fish is meat
There’s one thing that’s true; list posts do very well for blogging. It’s true that I’ve started to hate what I call group list posts, but a post like this one is one that I like quite a lot.
Something I see occurring sometimes is that a list post will have a list and nothing else. Whereas there’s a place for that every once in a while, if you do it too often your visitors aren’t going to like it because you can’t get a lot out of them all that often.
Notice that I’m not only giving 16 tips, but I’m adding a bit of context to them. It’s possible that it’s not enough context, or maybe it’s too much for some people, but at least I’m saying something instead of just listing a bunch of stuff without explanation. Or is it; you judge and tell me later in the comments.
9. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
I like to think of myself as a funny guy, and in some ways I can be humorous at times. Yet, except for parrot jokes and one Unknown Comic bit, I can’t tell a joke worth my weight in gold.
I’m not a comedian, but I like to think I can tell a story. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s poignant, sometimes it’s rant. I’m good at things like that; thank goodness! Luckily I know I can’t tell jokes all that well so any humor you find here is my own macabre sense of it.
10. Be clear on what you’re talking about.
You’d think this one would be easy but it’s one of those things too many people seem to be incapable of. I can’t tell you how many profiles I’ve visited on LinkedIn and end up closing them down because I have no idea what they do, even after they tell us what they do.
If you’re a niche blogger, your audience will understand you. If you’re a business blogger, the same thing might apply. However, if you’re trying to reach a larger audience and your terms are too industry specific or not specific enough, no one’s going to understand a single thing you’re saying.
As an example, I’m a health care finance consultant in my real life. If I start talking about CPT-4 codes, ICD-9 codes, HIPAA, EMTALA, Medicare fraud, revenue codes and the like in a post on this blog where I’m trying to show my proficiency while talking about blogging, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Truth be told, even in my industry a lot of people don’t know some of the terms I used above unless I say something like procedure codes, diagnosis codes, privacy laws, national emergency room standards and location/service billing codes.
Don’t forget to be clear and concise. Every once in a while if you decide to show off by dabbling in sesquipedalian, that’s okay because I find it kind of a lark here and there (Holly will like that word lol). If your entire post is made of up foot and a half long words (that’s what sesquipedalian means indirectly), very few people will understand and they might never come back. It’s probably better to write somewhere between Medicare regulations for conveying messages to patients (around a 3rd grade level) or 10th grade on the Fleisch scale unless your topic is technically informative, in which case you have to write what matters most.
11. Don’t try to please everyone.
I’m a major Harry Potter fan, both the books and the movies. Matter of fact, I’m going through both the book and movies series again for what’s probably the 15th time for the books and… well, way too many times for the movies.
J. K. Rowling is the most read author of all time (sorry folks but the Bible doesn’t have a real author) and she was the first writer to become a billionaire because of her creation. Yet, there are people who hate her books and think she’s not all that good a writer… people who’ve probably never written anything in their lives.
I always give this bit of advice to everyone who wants to do anything; haters gonna hate! The days are gone when everyone pulls for the good guy. I lament those days but it’s a great lesson to learn early on. You can’t please everyone so start off by pleasing yourself and those who gravitate towards you. Ignore the negative noise; it’s of no benefit to you.
12. What did you say? What did you type?
That’s my fancy way of saying to check your grammar and spelling as best you can. Typos are one thing; all of us do that, and if it’s a legitimate word you might not catch it until one of your loyal readers calls you on it.
Most people know a misspelling when they see one; they’ll either tell you or move on from it. But you also know a misspelling when you see it because, at least on WordPress, it tells you when a word is spelled incorrectly (Windows does also).
What most people won’t tell you is that your grammar is so bad they can’t understand what you wrote. A random sentence not making sense happens; I think faster than I type. A whole article of misspoken sentences will drive everyone’s mind wild. Even Southerners have limits on bad grammar (yeah, I said it; I was born in the south lol) so keep an eye on it. 😀
13. Schedules are best but mindsets are stronger.
It’s best to write on a schedule if you have a loyal audience. People come to expect content at a certain time when you establish a pattern. If you can maintain some kind of publishing schedule, it’s good for all concerned sides.
With that said, recognizing that life sometimes gets in the way and that something we don’t feel like it, if you miss writing for a day or a week don’t fret too much about it. I’ll say this though; if you get to 3 or 4 months and haven’t written anything new, maybe you should give up blogging… especially if it’s attached to your business website. That’s why I always recommend that new bloggers sit down and write 10 articles before they launch their blog; they might find out they’re not cut out for the grind and not waste their time or ours in the effort.
14. Comments; respond to the good ones, eliminate the bad ones.
The best way to keep people coming back to your blog is to respond to their comments when it looks like they’ve made an effort to write something pithy (having substance and/or making a point lol). The best way to drive people away is not ever responding to their comments or having too many spam comments that makes it seem like you either don’t care about your blog or you’re too ignorant to recognize a horrible and fake comment when you see one.
I respond to 99.5% of the comments I allow to remain on the blog. I tend to delete a lot of one line comments or something that looks canned. I delete comments written to “webmaster” or “admin”. I remove links from potentially good comments linking to seemingly dodgy websites. Always remember that your blog is your space and your face; moderate the heck out of it!
15. Don’t be too thin skinned but don’t take any mess from anyone.
As I said above, every person who comments on your blog isn’t going to like what you’ve said or agree with you. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you can take it and respond accordingly. With that said, you don’t have to take abuse or bad language from anyone; delete them, block them and move on.
Don’t be afraid to take on controversial topics if it’s something that’s important to you. I’ll always recommend that you choose your words carefully so you get your point across without inflaming people. You never know if you’re going to tick off the wrong person, and when people get ticked off they’re going to try to find you and out you… they might even try to come and visit you or call you on the phone. Decide if you’re ready for that sort of thing; if not, be cautious, and if so then you be you Boo.
16. No matter why you’re doing it, blogging should be fun for you.
Even if you’re trying to make money blogging, if you’re not enjoying it don’t do it. Blogging isn’t all that easy for most people, and a very low percentage is ever going to make livable money.
If blogging is a grind then it’s not for you; go do something else. If you don’t have a lot to say at a moment’s notice, blogging isn’t for you. There are way more abandoned blogs than active blogs on the internet; don’t be these folks. I say that as someone who’s been officially blogging for 12 years at this juncture, even though I’ve been writing online for 20. If it’s not fun, go find something you like better and keep doing that thing.
That’s 16 relatively new things you can take to the bank as it concerns blogging. I’m also not going to close this well except to say that Syracuse plays their next game Friday night at stupid 9:37PM (ugh!), and by this time next week I’ll either be writing a Final Four things about something or moving on altogether. I’m pulling for a Final Four post, since it’ll be easier than this Sweet Sixteen post (over 2500 words; ouch); now I’m out!